Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pennsylvania moves forward with expanding health coverage; Pension systems make big gains; New Orleans DA to review potential wrongful convictions; and Hurricane Katrina: Nine years later

Pennsylvania moves forward with expanding health coverage

Pennsylvania became the 28th state to move forward with expanding health coverage to the working poor yesterday, after crafting a deal with the federal government, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. As part of the Healthy Pennsylvania plan, the state will use federal dollars to buy coverage for uninsured adults through private managed care plans. People will be charged premiums based on their income, but premiums could be reduced if enrollees participate in wellness incentives or job training programs. More than 500,000 Pennsylvanians—mostly people working low-wage jobs—will now be able to gain health coverage.

Unfortunately, here in Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal continues to stonewall, despite his national reputation for being a “health care wonk” and his extensive experience in both the state and federal government health bureaucracies.

Pension systems make big gains

After seeing their investment returns take a beating during the Great Recession, Louisiana’s pension systems posted near-record gains last year, reports the Advocate. The Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) gained $2.3 billion in assets, while the system for state employees gained $1.3 billion. While better investment returns is good news for taxpayers, the state’s pension systems still have a substantial “unfunded accrued liability” (UAL) due to poor management in the past. Together, the two systems have a UAL of $19 billion and combined assets of $28 billion.

New Orleans DA to review potential wrongful convictions

New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro announced a partnership with the Innocence Project—an organization that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions—to review and investigate cases in New Orleans, the Associated Press reported. According to Cannizzarro the arrangement is unprecedented and was inspired in large part by Reginald Adams, who spent 34 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit and was released last year. Much of the problems in the New Orleans justice system stem from a past lack of resource:

New Orleans has historically had an overburdened and underfunded criminal justice system. And, obviously, much has improved in the years since Hurricane Katrina. I believe that the challenge for this city now is to find the victims, the wrongly convicted, of that past system that was so overburdened and so underfunded, and get them out of prison before they die there,” said Emily Maw of the Innocence Project

Hurricane Katrina: Nine years later

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Times-Picayune has a series of stories marking the solemn occasion, including a gallery of “now and then” photographs.


28—The number of states who are using federal dollars to expand health coverage to low-wage workers (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer)